Fig Leaves? or Righteousness?

Written by Paul Warneke. Posted in PastorPage



Text: Gen 3:1-21 (emph vv. 2 & 3)

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”


Dear friends in Christ Jesus:

            I often make reference to Gen 3, and talk about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, tempted by Satan, giving in to the temptation, eating the forbidden fruit. But I don’t often get the opportunity the opportunity to actually preach on that text.

            And there is so much to talk about in Gen 3, especially in conjunction with our other scripture readings.


            What a contrast we have between our OT lesson and our Gospel lesson (Mt 4:1-11). In both cases we’ve got man being tempted by Satan. In the first case (Gen 3) man fails miserably. And not onlu des he fail miserably, but he also brings misery in the world.

Rom 5:12

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned—

(sidenote re: evolution)

            And that, by the way, is the reason that Christianity is NOT compatible with the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is based on death. According to the theory of evolution, through the course of time (millions and billions of years) creatures lived, developed, adapted, and died. Species lived, developed, adapted, and died. The strong species survived and thrived. The weak species died… and died out. And the fittest (over millions and billions of years) adapted, survived, and thrived.

            But the Bible tells us that after the 6 days of creation God looked at all he had made “and behold, it was very good.” Do you think that millions and billions of years of death and dying would be described by God as “very good”?

            When God was finished with His creation on the 6th day, those was nothing to even resemble death, or dying, or decay. Death did not come onto the scene until Adam and Eve first sinned, the sin described in our OT lesson for today.

            And the result? As we just referenced Paul in Rom 5 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned—

And he also says three chapters later: Rom 8:19-22

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

            That groaning began with the introduction of sin into the world, when Adam and Eve first sinned, eating the forbidden fruit, falling into sin, bringing death into the world.

            That was the first case. The second case was a little bit different. Here the man (the God/man, Jesus Christ) does not fail. He conquers. He does not give in to Satan’s temptations. Instead, he passes the test with flying colors.

            Like I said, what a contrast that is… a contrast that I brought out in our Epistle lesson (Rom 5) 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

            I’ve said it many times before, but the fact is that the sin of Adam and Eve has been passes down from generation to generation to generation, to the point that today we are guilty…  guilty of wanting to be like God;  of not loving him with our whole heart, soul mind and strength; of not loving our neighbor as yourself. We are (in fact) guilty of eating the forbidden fruit.

            In contrast to that, however, is the 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ, who was acting on our behalf when he refused to give in to Satan’s temptations.

            When he quoted the Holy Scriptures to Satan, instead of obeying Satan’s temptations, he was acting on our behalf. And when He told Satan to “Be gone!” he was doing that on our behalf too… so that “by his obedience we may be made righteous.”

            As we have inherited the sin and death of Adam… Jesus comes along and provides another kind of inheritance, and inheritance of righteousness… and life.

            But it wasn’t just the temptation in the wilderness that Jesus endured that brings us righteousness. It was his whole life. His whole life of active obedience to his heavenly Father… his whole life of active obedience to the Law, so that as man, he fulfilled the law for us.

            But not only was there Jesus’ active obedience. There was also his passive obedience… his passive obedience where, as man, he suffered and died… in order to undergo the punishment for sin… which is death.

            So now, instead of inheriting the death of Adam and Eve’s sin… we may, by faith, inherit the righteousness and life that Jesus won in his suffering and death.

            Did the people of the OT have to wait til Jesus was born before they could have any knowledge of this good news? Absolutely not. The OT is filled with promises about the coming Messiah.

            In fact, in our text (Gen 3) we’ve got two references to the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

            The first one is Gen 3:15. (You know that John 3:16 is the Gospel in a nutshell. Maybe you can remember that Gen 3:15 is the first Gospel proclamation of the Bible.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

            God is speaking to Satan here. These are among the curses he must endure for having brought sin into the world. So, who is this offspring of the woman who is going to bruise (crush) the head of Satan? Jesus Christ! In his active obedience he crushed the head of Satan.

            Of course, Satan was able to bruise Jesus’ heel. And that bruising took the form of Jesus dying on the cross, part of his passive obedience.

            And while Satan thought he had defeated Jesus by having him crucified, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved that his death on the cross was, for Him, merely a bruising of the heel.

            Where is the other Gospel message of Gen? Verse 21: 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

            Garments of skins?! How is that a gospel message? How is that a prophecy of the coming of Christ?

            Remember what Adam and Eve did right after they first sinned? They knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths… or aprons.

            Isn’t that silly? What a joke! Adam and Eve are like little kids, who knew they were in trouble. And now they were trying to solve the problem themselves. Now they were going to cover it up. “Oh, maybe if we sew fig leaves together, and make ourselves garments, God will never know!”

            But God did know. And he handed out the punishments. And he proclaimed the gospel message. And he covered up their iniquity with garments of skin.

            Where do you suppose those garments of skin came from? They came from animals. Animals who had been sacrificed; animals who had been killed. This was the first death in all of God’s creation. These animals died to cover over Adam and Eve’s sin, covered over by God, not by themselves.

            This was the first animal sacrifice. But, of course, it would not be the last. For animal sacrifice would become an integral part of the worship life of God’s people throughout the OT. The unblemished lamb… the spotless lamb, would be for the people a sin offering… assuring them of their forgiveness.

Heb 9:22 …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

            But was it the animal on the altar that took their sins away? No. Those sacrifices merely pointed to the true source of their forgiveness, the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) who take away the sin of the world.

            So, it all comes back to Jesus Christ. There, at the beginning, when Adam and Eve first sinned, God pointed the in the direction of Jesus Christ, and assured them that that’s where their salvation lies.

            And that’s how it is for us today too. It all comes back to Jesus Christ, Here and now when we sin, God points us in the direction of Jesus too, assuring us that that’s where our salvation lies too.

            In Jesus’ active obedience on our behalf; in His passive obedience on our behalf; in the application of His obedience to us in Word and Sacrament, we find salvation where God clothes us, not with fig leaves, but with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Amen.